Summary of occupation
Dental specialists are dentists who specialise and practise in a particular area of dentistry. They diagnose and treat diseases, injuries and irregularities of the teeth and structures of the mouth.
They can specialise in areas such as periodontics – preventing and treating diseases of the gums and supportive tissues; prosthodontics – restoring and replacing teeth and gums; orthodontics – diagnosing and treating badly aligned teeth and jaws; or paediatric dentistry – the treatment of dental diseases in infants and children.
They can also specialise in forensic dentistry, special needs dentistry, oral surgery, oral pathology or public health dentistry.
Diagnoses and treats diseases, injuries, irregularities and malformations of teeth and associated structures in the mouth and jaw using surgery and other specialist techniques. Registration or licensing is required.
A dental specialist needs:
- excellent manual dexterity and spatial perception
- good vision and hand-eye coordination
- to maintain concentration for long periods of time
- attention to detail
- good communication skills
- good organisational skills.
Dental specialists may work in private consultation practices or public dental centres, or both. They may work as part of a team with anaesthetists, dental technicians and dental assistants.
Dental specialists work in completely sterile rooms and must wear sterile and protective clothing to prevent infection to clients and themselves.
On average, dental specialists can expect to earn between $2 456 and $2 938 per week ($127 731 and $152 785 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.
Dental specialists use a range of instruments that are common to dentistry as well as instruments that are used in their specialty. They may use pliers, probes, tweezers, scalpels, anaesthetic syringes, surgical scissors, mouth retractors, bone rongeurs, X-rays and mouth props. Depending on the procedure that they are performing, dental specialists must also wear sterile protective equipment such as gloves, masks and gowns to prevent contamination.
To become a dental specialist you must first become a qualified dentist and then undertake further training in the speciality in which you wish to work.
The Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) is offered by the University of Western Australia and usually takes four years to complete. Entry requirements include completion of a bachelor degree in any discipline. You must also sit the Graduate Australian Medical Schools Admissions Test (GAMSAT) and attend an interview. Contact the university for more information.
On completion of your postgraduate dental degree, you must register with the Royal Australian College of Dental Surgeons (RACDS) to complete further training in the speciality in which you wish to work, and ultimately receive fellowship.
Graduates must be registered with the Dental Board of Australia to be able to practise dentistry in Australia.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.